Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

Endurance Life – Coastal Trail Series – Northumberland – 11km

on 1 March 2015

I did make it to the Endurance Life Coastal Trail Series race at Bamburgh Castle in the end. I’d woken up not having made any attack-the-cold progress from the day before, and decided that stuff it, I was going anyway and would just wrap up extra for the waiting before the race.

There were four races on at the same time, all finishing at Bamburgh Castle throughout the day with different starting locations. The race organisers had several coaches, which would pick up each race distance’s participants at a set time and take them to the start position. The ultra, marathon and half marathon runners all left before the 10k – and at the 10k start-line in Beadnell some of the half marathon runners were already coming past – the second half of their run being common with the full length of the 10k one. I did also see some ultra runners, but they had a full extra loop to do before they could plough up the hill to the finish line at the castle. I don’t know how I’d have felt seeing the castle coming into view and knowing I had to run straight past it to do another massive loop!

Any misgivings I’d felt about going to the race started to melt away as soon as I got to the castle for registration. It’s been a while since I last went to Bamburgh and it is lovely. It’s over 5 miles to the nearest motorway so you get away from the car park and all you can hear is the wind, the sea and the birds. I just stopped and took a deep breath – it really is a blow-your-troubles away place.

I’d arrived at the start of the registration time for the 10k – 09:30 in the morning, and everything was well-organised for collecting timing chips, ticket numbers, and they were giving gel shots to every runner. My coach wasn’t due until 11:00 to head down the road to Beadnell, so I parked up on a bench to enjoy the calm for a bit, and when I started to get a little cold I headed back down to the car to sort my race number out and re-jig the contents of my waistbag.

There were four coaches taking us all to Beadnell, where there was the inevitable mega-queue for the toilets pre-run! A short walk down the beach in the opposite direction to the castle to bring us up to the 10km start-line and we were off down the beach! The tide was in, but fortunately there was still a reasonable amount of sand showing, and as the tide went out, the width of the firmer, wetter sand available to runners widened. I’ve not tried running on sand before, and the firm sand nearer the water – as you’ll find when walking – was fine to run on, but the loose sand when leaving and joining the beaches either side of the towns was a real knee’s-up and, for me at least, a walking stretch. I still managed to get sand in my trainers. Normally if walking on the beaches I would have taken my shoes off before hitting the loose sand bits, and probably just left them off, but that wasn’t really an option for the race!

The course overall was pretty flat, there were some points of interest when we had to cross stretches of large, flat rocks or dodge the kelp left behind by the tide, but in terms of potential ankle breakers or pace busters, it was a pretty friendly route. As with all beaches, there were a couple of small streams running down to the sea – and unless you wanted to divert right up into the soft sand to cross them, you had to go through. My poor trail shoes have been thoroughly christened this month! Mud, sand and water in the space of a fortnight!

I’d realised as I got to the 7km mark on my watch that I had a shot at coming in for a new PB 10k time on this one – though it would be close and I’d have to just keep going without a walking break, which with only flat damp sand ahead of me I thought I had a good shot at and was determined that at the very least, I wouldn’t lag miles behind where I have been coming in. As I started getting to the 9.2km mark however, and the finish line should have been in clear sight, I started to get a little suspicious – there was no way the distance from where I was to the castle, where I was pretty sure the finish line was, was only 800m. Not a hope in hell. Maybe the feather banner things leaving the beach into the dunes were the end? But there was noone there with timer boxes for my wrist chip! Noooooo!

I hit 10km in 1hr 12mins – which is 37secs faster than my last 10km event time (I didn’t have a gps watch then so can only hope it really was 10km!), and only slightly slower than my PB time, which was set on a completely flat and hazard-less route, so I’m very pleased with that. The last 1km (as it turned out to be) to the finish line however, I basically walked 90% of – I hit the soft sand leaving the beach, and then the hill some sadist had put right at the finish (my heart really goes out to the marathon and ultra runners who had to get themselves up that at the end of their much longer races), and that was me done with attempting to jog any further!

28-02-15 end

The aerial photo here? It looks very tame on the route elevation plan for the route, and I guess if you were walking it, it’s not too bad, it’s up the left hand side of the castle photo at the top, but at the end of a run when your feet are wet and you’ve managed to get sand in your socks, it’s a killer! I was so glad I wasn’t going further – I was really worried I was getting blisters on the balls of my feet where I could feel my socks were wet and gritty, but I appear to have escaped unscathed – the relief of putting clean socks and loose-fitting fur-lined snow boots on in the car was pure bliss! I’d nearly worn my light-weight ankle gaters and decided that was probably getting a little to much on the all-the-gear, no-idea side – next time, I will even if it’s just to get me to and from the water-line sand free!

There were plenty of people at the castle, cheering people up the hill and round the last few bends to the finish line, and some lovely goodies to be had – a nice red medal and a ‘never give up’ tech t-shirt, before grabbing some water and heading back to the car to stretch off and get changed!

P1000970

P1000969

This marks the longest race I’ve done to date – and I’m taking that as a big positive even if I didn’t necessarily run the additional km! My final time was 1:21:49 by my watch. I have some serious running to do if I’m going to be able to do the 10 mile / 16km run I’m doing in 3 weeks time, and I’m currently struggling to see myself doing the half-marathon distance ever let alone in 4 months time!

Overall, I really enjoyed this run, more so because I pushed myself to go anyway in the morning when I could have bailed, and I proved to myself that even when I’m not feeling 100%, I can still go out there and do myself proud 🙂 The other big positive? My shins hardly bothered me at all, so a day or so’s rest and some stretches really seems to have helped. The other thing that occurred to me as I was jogging along the sands, is that this is probably the most beach I’ve ever travelled along in my life – normally I would walk along a stretch, probably for not longer than an hour before turning back and heading for the car – so I might see the same total distance under my feet, but only half the length of beach. Running let me see so much further in a much shorter time, than I’ve ever done as a walker. I’m looking forward to seeing where else my trainers can take me.

The course was very well signed up, and well organised, the location fab and the weather even behaved itself until I’d finished (though I fear anyone finishing more than 30 mins after me – most of the marathon and all of the ultra runners at the very least will have been caught in it!). Definitely one to keep an eye out for next year.

5 star

28-02-15

GPX data available to download from my Dropbox account by following the link below:

GPX data on Dropbox

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